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Students learn technology skills

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services

Fort Liard (Nov 10/06) - Two weeks ago, Carla Payou hadn't worked with electrical wiring before but now she's ready to wire lights and switches.

Payou, 15, is one of the students at Echo Dene school participating in the Technology in the Workplace program.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Trevor McLeod said let their be light - and there was - as he tested the light fixtures he wired as part of the Technology in the Workplace program. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

When she first joined the class two weeks ago, Payou wasn't sure if she would like it. She quickly changed her mind.

"It's fun," she said.

Payou won the class award for the month of October.

"Girls can do this stuff just as well as boys, if not better," said Payou.

The Technology in the Workplace program is in its second year in Fort Liard. Started in November 2005 as Practical Arts Liard (PAL) for at-risk students, the program is undergoing changes this year.

"We are moving away from the stand alone program and integrating it into the main school program," said principal Alphonse Janvier. The goal is to have all students in Grades 7 and up take part in the program.

A few challenges stand in the way. There is a lack of space for all the students to work and a lack of resources to purchase the necessary supplies, said Janvier.

Despite the obstacles, 14 students are currently taking part in the program.

"The students are doing very well," said Paul Brown, the technology teacher.

The program is designed to teach employable technology skills and give the students a chance to touch on a number of trades, Brown said.

In small hamlets, there seems to be a need for people who are able to do general repairs, he said.

Students will learn about construction, wood working, home repairs, painting and drywall repair and installation. Welding might also be developed into an option.

"We hope each student finds their niche and expands on it," Brown said.

Once students have the basic skills, Brown hopes to take them into the community to put their knowledge to use making repairs.

Brown, an industrial electrician by trade, has taught in high schools in Hamilton, Ont., for the past 20 years. He is currently on leave from the Hamilton-Wentworth District school board.

Using Brown's background, so far the students have learned about basic circuits and are applying the knowledge to wiring light fixtures and switches.

For Laura Loe, 16, the class is opening up new career possibilities.

While wiring a switch, Loe said it's her first time doing this kind of activity but she enjoys having the chance to work with her hands.

"It's good," she said.

She's now thinking of trades as a possible career option.